The football world is awash with player contract details after the latest wave of ‘Football Leaks’ information has been passed to major news outlets around Europe.
In just one of the ‘leaks’, Austria Vienna have been revealed to be very strict with their players and insert all kind of clauses to enforce discipline and timeliness. Players can be fined €100 simply for using their phones on the team bus, or €1,000 for prematurely getting up from the bench at the end of games without permission.
Here’s a look at nine other weird and unexpected contractual clauses from down the years…
When looking into the possibility of signing ex-Liverpool defender Neil Ruddock from West Ham in 2000, Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan was warned that he may need to include a special clause to address the player’s propensity for massive weight gain.
“Harry Redknapp told me to put in a weight clause. So I decided to put a 10 per cent penalty on the contract we were proposing to offer him if he was over the recommended weight of 99.8kg, which by the way was still frigging huge,” Jordan wrote in his 2013 autobiography.
Journeyman East German coach Bernd Stange took over management of the Iraqi national team in 2002, although he clearly had more than a few concerns about the increasingly unstable politicial situation in the Gulf region and how it would affect his job.
Stange accepted the role on the condiiton that his contract included a clause that would allow him to be released should war break out. Another clause also made sure he could refuse any comment of a political nature.
A year after the United States led an invasion and started the Iraq War, Stange quit.
In a ‘Football Leaks’ release it was revealed Matija Nastasic’s 2015 move from Manchester City to Schalke came with an odd clause with regard to what boots he was allowed to wear.
His contract dictated that he was only permitted to use boots supplied by Adidas, the club’s own supplier, unless medical reasons mean he physically cannot. Someone must have found a loophole, though, because the defender has been in Nike boots the whole time.
New Sunderland signing Stefan Schwarz had a potential place on the first commercial flight into space (expected in 2002) when he arrived at the newly built Stadium of Light in 1999.
Understandably, club officials were keen not to let their new star signing, formerly of Arsenal and Valencia and a veteran of Sweden’s 1994 World Cup team take the risk of blasting off into space when they needed him on the pitch.
“One of Schwarz’s advisers has got one of the places on the commercial flights and we were worried that he may wish to take Stefan along with him. So we thought we’d better get things tied up now rather than at the time of the flight,” then Sunderland chief executive John Flicking said at the time.
Famously nicknamed ‘The Non-Flying Dutchman’ for his fear of air travel, Dennis Bergkamp is actually alleged to have had a clause in his Arsenal contracts that formally excused him of travelling to away games by aeroplane.
It meant that unless away Champions League games were reachable by train in a reasonable amount of time, Bergkamp’s self enforced absences often hindered the Gunners on their quest for elusive European glory.
Concocted in the mind of Wimdledon’s former ‘Crazy Gang’ chief Sam Hammam, Spencer Prior’s contract upon joining Cardiff from Manchester City in 2001 insisted that he have a ‘physical liaison’ with a sheep to prove himself to the Welsh people, as well as scoffing a pair of sheep’s testicles – a delicacy in Hammam’s native Lebanon.
“Spencer refused to eat them raw, but has agreed to eat them cooked. We’ll serve them in a lemon and parsley sauce,” Hammam said at the time.
Wandering into a women’s prison because he fancied a look around and allowing friends to set off fireworks in his bathroom were among the many odd behaviours on Mario Balotelli’s record when Liverpool spent £16m to bring him back to England in 2014.
The Reds were keen to incentivise good behaviour with bonuses for good on-field conduct.
A contract extract published by the Sunday Times read: “If during each season of the term of this contract the player is not dismissed from the field of play on three or more occasions for violent conduct, spitting at an opponent or any other person, for using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures and/or for dissent by word or action… then on the 30th June at the end of each season he shall receive a bonus payment of £1million.”
The principle of a release clause in a football contract is fairly straightforward. The selling club sets a value and is then contractually obliged to accept offers that meet the figure, leaving the transfer decision solely in the hands of the player and his advisors.
The renewed wave of ‘Football Leaks’ has revealed that Liverpool star Roberto Firmino has an £82m release clause in his Anfield contract, but it’s not available for Arsenal to trigger.
Any club can buy the Brazilian for £82m if they want, just not Arsenal. It is believed it stems from Arsenal’s infamous £40,000,001 attempt to trigger a Luis Suarez clause in 2013.
Prior to winning the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund in 2002, German striker Giuseppe Reina signed for Arminia Bielefeld with a contract that stipulated the club would build a new house for him every year he spent with them.
Perhaps to Reina’s surprise, the club happily accepted the demands, although it was they who had the last laugh. The type or size of house was apparently never specified, so the player ended up with a model house made of Lego each season he was there.
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